There’s something particularly special about the Commonwealth of Kentucky that residents who venture beyond its borders long to come home to. The diverse and striking natural beauty, the strong family ties, the cultural familiarity and the places that tie them all together are clearly at the center of it. Historic preservation is firmly planted on these connections - acknowledgement that memory and place and beauty should be cared for and perpetuated for our own benefit and the benefit of future Kentuckians.
Craig Potts, speaking at the Angel's Envy press conference July 9 in downtown Louisville. Photo
Courtesy of Tony Bennett | The Voice-Tribune
My grandfather, Howard Collins, loved the mountains and hollows of eastern Kentucky more than anything in the world. He was a coal miner in the 1950s and experienced the difficulties of poverty, unstable employment and ongoing labor conflicts associated with the mining industry first-hand. Like many other Appalachian natives of the time period, he chose to leave our home place in Johnson County to move the family north in search of stable manufacturing work in southern Ohio. While he raised his family in Springfield, Ohio and retired from the International Harvester Company many years later, his heart and soul were always firmly planted in eastern Kentucky, and he longed to come home.
Historic preservation does much more than preserve bricks and mortar. It recognizes that our built history connects us in tangible ways with our past and provides context for the places we occupy and the world we live in. It fuses art with craftsmanship, capacity for modern utility with embodied energy, and progressive ideas for economic revitalization with traditional authenticity. It allows us to peer into the technologies and life ways of ancestors and prehistoric peoples to more fully understand who we are and where we came from.
For my grandfather, the buildings, structures and physical manifestations of home coupled with family tradition and natural beauty had profound, irreplaceable value. Kentuckians throughout the Commonwealth feel a similar connection with their traditional places, and our responsibility is to provide them with the tools and support necessary to preserve and reuse those assets today and in the future.
I am honored to take the helm of the Kentucky Heritage Council, an agency that works to promote and cultivate the benefits of historic preservation statewide, and I look forward to working with the KHC board and a dedicated and passionate staff of preservation professionals to increase our effectiveness. Many of the programs and initiatives highlighted in this newsletter and on our website have for many years helped Kentuckians in all corners of the Commonwealth to record, preserve, showcase and market their heritage. Our goal is to enhance these existing programs and initiatives while making them more useful and accessible to a wider range of constituents.
I have witnessed time-and-again the strong and proud relationship that Kentuckians have with their home state and its heritage. I am privileged to have been appointed KHC executive director and state historic preservation officer, entrusted to work with the citizens and leaders of this state to preserve our unique and special sense of place. - Craig Potts